When I think about networking, I remember the old election campaign joke: “Vote early and often.” The same goes for networking, and one of the overlooked opportunities for networking is the informational interview.
Simply put, the informational interview does four things for you:
- Expands your network of contacts
- Provides you with “inside” information about a particular industry or career
- Makes your eventual job search activity more efficient
- Helps you land the position you want with a more effective resume
To get a good grasp of the basics of informational interviews, start with this 10-tip article from Monster.com. It’s a top-level summary of the process, starting with what you want to learn and showing you what to do next.
And though that Monster.com article gives you a good 30,000-foot perspective on informational interviewing, you could also use some ground-level information on:
- What you should be seeking from an informational interview
- How to ask for an informational interview – whether by phone or in person
- What kinds of questions to ask during an informational interview
For the answers to these and other “how-to” questions, check out this article by Annemarie Cross.
And though opinions vary on whether to offer a resume to your interviewee, one thing’s for sure – you’d better bring a resume with you. Just like with business cards, if you’re asked for a resume and you don’t have one, it’s an awkward situation. With resumes, however, it’s even worse to look unprepared in front of someone with actual hiring power.
If your interviewee doesn’t ask for a resume, you can still offer it, but think carefully before you do. If you can honestly say that your interview went well and that you made a strong connection with your interviewee, you can say something like:
“I’m very interested in what you’ve shared with me today. I’d like to you give you my resume – I have a general one with me – but I’d like to offer you a specific version that focuses on your goals and how I can help you meet them. May I send that to you by this time next week?”
Remember, the informational interview is an entirely separate art from the job interview. But it can be just as effective in landing you the job you want.